Friday, October 19, 2018

The Holy Spirit is the Voice that speaks in court.

"The holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say.”  (Luke 12: 12).

If I have not personally experienced this promise several times in my life, I may hesitate in believing it.  In truth, I started experiencing the guidance of the Holy Spirit long before I considered myself a committed Christian.

Here is one example.
#1.  On a Saturday night in college, I was attacked by a mob of a fraternity cult.  They threw a broken bottle on me which cut my tendon.  Charges were filed and the cult was put on trial by the university court.  It appeared that all the members of the court from the Law faculty were ex members of one fraternity or the other.  Very soon, I was treated as the culprit instead of the plaintiff.  At one point, very angry, I turned and faced the lawyers and said:  "There is no basis in law for what you have said."  That was all that I said. You could have heard a pin drop in the room.  To make a long story short, the cult was proscribed and I was paid damages.  Where did my words come from?  I know today.  From the Holy Spirit, the Voice that speaks in court. 

There is no space here for more examples but I have enjoyed regularly this sweet interventions of the Awesome Spirit.  Later when I got to know the Holy Spirit, I try to invoke His help in everything I do. My favorite prayer to the Holy Spirit is the Veni Sancte Spiritu (Come Holy Spirit...).

"Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful and kindle in us the fire of Your love.
Send forth Your Spirit and we shall be recreated
--And You will renew the face of the earth.
Let us pray:
O God, Who did instruct the hearts of Your faithful people by the Light of Your Holy Spirit, grant that by the same Spirit we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolation. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Forget your foolish fears.

"Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God.  Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows."  (Luke 12: 6 - 7).

How many times do we find the injunction:  "Do not be afraid" in the Bible? A cursory search gives 350 times. While this may not be exact, it is enough to demonstrate that we are too fearful and that God is deeply concerned about our foolish fears.  On one occasion, the People of God were so fearful about their future and accused God of having forsaken them. God's defense is one of the most tender words you can read anywhere:

"But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.”
Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb?
Even should she forget, I will never forget you."  (Isaiah 49: 14 - 15).

Even if it were possible for a rogue mother to cast away her child, it is impossible for God to do that.  In today's Scripture, Jesus says that God is concerned about one sparrow which costs less than one penny.  His providential care for us notices every hair on our head. 

Yet in spite of such assurances, our life is full of worry.  Worry about health, family, job, possessions, etc.  In the Scripture from Hebrews, God gives us the killer word on worry about money:
"Let your life be free from love of money but be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never forsake you or abandon you.”  Thus we may say with confidence:
“The Lord is my helper,
and I will not be afraid.
What can anyone do to me?” (Hebrews 13: 5 - 6).

"If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts."  (Cf Psalm 95: 8)

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

St Luke is the beautiful feet on the road bringing the Good News.

"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him
who brings glad tidings of peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation!"
(Isaiah 52: 7).

Those beautiful feet upon the mountains are the feet of St Luke the Evangelist whose feast we celebrate today. St Luke abandoned his profession as a medical doctor to become an Evangelist of the Good News of Jesus Christ. He wrote two books in the New Testament, the Gospel that bears his name and the Acts of the Apostles, an inspired and reliable history of the early Church.

St Luke besides being a faithful and true chronicler of the events in his books has a character that appeals to me very much.  He is reliable!
"Luke is the only one with me," says Paul after listing the people who abandoned him. (2 Timothy 4: 11).
This may be why God  chose Luke "to reveal by his preaching and writings
the mystery of your love for the poor."

The core of the message of St Luke is that magnificent obsession of Jesus the Christ:
"The Lord sent out disciples to proclaim throughout the towns: The kingdom of God is at hand for you."  (Cf Luke 10: 1, 9).  Through our words and works we can propagate the glorious splendor of God's Kingdom. Making known to men God's love, justice and might.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

St Ignatius of Antioch was filled with the Holy Spirit.

"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law."   (Galatians 5: 22 - 23).

The above Scripture paints the image of Jesus Christ who is filled with the Holy Spirit. It portrays also St Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop, Martyr and Father of the Church.  (35 - 108 AD).
St Ignatius of Antioch was the first to use the word "Catholic" to describe the universal Church.  In letters he wrote on his way to Rome for his martyrdom under Emperor Trajan, Ignatius affirmed unequivocally the hierarchical nature of the Church founded by Jesus Christ. Below is one of his famous quotes:

"I prefer death in Christ Jesus to power over the farthest limits of the earth. He who died in place of us is the one object of my quest. He who rose for our sakes is my one desire."  (St Ignatius of Antioch).

In the Liturgy celebrating his life today, the Church uses one of his famous quotes:
"I am the wheat of Christ to be ground by the teeth of beasts,
that I may be found to be pure bread."  (Communion Antiphon).

"If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit."
(Galatians 5: 25).

Monday, October 15, 2018

Where is the victorious living?

"So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law."  (Galatians 5: 1).

Free from fears, worries and doubts.

I believe the Scriptures that Christ has set us free through His redemptive death. Why don't I feel this freedom and victory always in my life?  The Letter to the Galatians teaches that we appropriate this freedom by faith. When I am attacked by fear, worry or doubt, I declare by faith that Christ has set me free.  I walk by faith and not by sight or feeling.

What is the pathway to this freedom? Through the Spirit, we pray to receive the mercy and grace that we need.  Therefore the pathway to victory and freedom is prayer, grace and mercy.

"For through the Spirit, by faith, we await the hope of righteousness."  (Galatians 5:5).

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Sign of Jonah.

"Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation."  (Luke 11: 30).

Jesus is a Sign to our generation.  Today is the Memorial of St Teresa of Avila, Virgin and Doctor of the Church.  She was a bright sign to her generation. Of her the Church prays  "that we may always be nourished by the food of her heavenly teaching and fired with longing for true holiness."

What does it mean that Jonah is a sign to the Ninevites?  A sign points to a significant post or event in the horizon. Jonah was three days in the belly of the whale. It points to the 3 days Jesus was to stay in the grave.

Other important signs in the Scriptures are:
#1. Sabbath / Sunday (Ezekiel 20: 12, 20: 20).  It points to the Resurrection of Jesus and the permanent Day of Rest which is a rehearsal for Eternal life.
#2 "Between me and the Israelites it is to be an everlasting sign; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, but on the seventh day he rested at his ease."  (Exodus 31: 17).

Scripture urges us not to forget "our ancient landmarks."
(Proverbs 22: 28). These are wonderful Signs that God scatters along our Journey of Faith.  These landmarks in our Timeline give us great confidence and consolation in a period of desolation and depression. 

St Teresa of Avila left us one such precious gem from her life.

"Let nothing trouble you,
let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing;
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who possesses God lacks nothing: God alone suffices."  (St Teresa of Avila).

Saturday, October 13, 2018

The word of God is the wisdom of God.

"The word of God is living and effective."  (Hebrews 4: 12).

Four of the 7 characteristics of living things learned early in grade school are: respiration, growth, reproduction and nutrition.  The word of God is all these plus:  It is mighty effective.  The word of God has sustained Christianity for over 2000 years.  The first book of the New Testament was not written till perhaps 40 years after the Ascension of Christ. It was the living spoken word that sustained the Christians for about a generation.  Origen, an early Church Father of the 3rd century, writes that the Church would have survived till the Second Coming of Jesus without a written New Testament.

The word of God is the Wisdom of God.
"I prayed, and prudence was given me; I pleaded and the spirit of Wisdom came to me."  (Wisdom 7: 7).

The word of God is tested by fire and is more precious than silver and gold.
"I preferred her to scepter and throne, And deemed riches nothing in comparison with her, nor did I liken any priceless gem to her; Because all gold, in view of her, is a bit of sand, and before her, silver is to be accounted mire."  (Wisdom 7: 8 - 9).

When Jeremiah and the prophets found the word of God, they ate it up.
"Yet all good things together came to me with her, and countless riches at her hands; I rejoiced in them all, because Wisdom is their leader, though I had not known that she is their mother." 
(Wisdom 7: 11 - 12).

In today's Gospel, Jesus said to the Rich Young man:
“You are lacking in one thing."  (Mark 10: 21).
He lacks the word of God, the wisdom of God.
Is it possible to be attached to money and be saved? Jesus answers:
"All things are possible for God.”  (Mark 10: 27).

The word of God proclaims that:
"The rich suffer want and go hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing." 
(Psalm 34: 11).  Amen!

Friday, October 12, 2018

Before Faith came, there was...

"Blessed are those who hear the word of God
and observe it."  (Luke 11: 28).

The word of God, the Promise of God is the source of every blessing. And Faith is confidence in the Promise of Jesus.

Nobody understands the promises of God as much as Mary, the Mother of God.  At the event that launched the salvation history and the New Genealogy,  "Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”  (Luke 1: 38).

Do you know that Faith is one of the key revelations in Sacred Scripture? Listen to Paul explain:
"Before faith came, we were held in custody under law, confined for the faith that was to be revealed."  (Galatians 3: 23).

There was a time when what we call Faith was unimaginable.   People thought that to be OK with God, you need to do certain things.  Then Abraham appeared.  God said to Abraham: Leave your country. Migrate to a new country. I will provide for you and protect you and your family. Abraham had confidence in the Promise of God and God was pleased.  Abraham's confidence and the pleasure of God constitutes the revelation and revolution of Faith as prime mover in salvation history.

"For through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus."  (Galatians 3: 26).
Do you believe that this is true?
And this:
"Through faith in Jesus Christ the promise might be given to those who believe."  (Galatians 3: 22).

The old genealogy technically stops here:
"Eleazar became the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob,  Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Messiah." (Matthew 1: 15 - 16).
Jesus Christ heads the new genealogy of which your name is inscribed.

"And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendant, heirs according to the promise."   (Galatians 3: 29).

Thursday, October 11, 2018

I will return to the house I left.

 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left."

When it returns, behold the house clean and empty.  Amazed, the evil spirit invites seven of his friends.

"And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.”  (Cf Luke 11: 24 - 26).

What is your attitude towards evil spirits, demonic possessions, addictions? Skepticism, fairy tales or half doubt, half belief? If your attitude is any of this, then it is far from that of the Bible, the official Magisterium and the tradition of the Church.

Jesus Christ came into the world to redeem mankind. What is Redemption?
"The restoration of man from the bondage of sin to the liberty of the children of God through the satisfactions and merits of Christ." (Catholic Encylopedia).

There is a connection between Sin > > Suffering >>Salvation.

When someone is saved, and does not fill the vacuum with good works and disciplined living, relapse is inevitable. This time around, the condition may be worse.

When the evil spirit arrives the second time and finds the house swept clean and put in order.  It departs and brings seven other spirits more wicked than itself.  And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.  (Cf Luke 11: 24 - 26).

The Alcoholic Anonymous has great understanding of this dynamics through decades of working with alcoholics.

Let us never underestimate the power of faith and prayer in dealing with all types of demonic infiltrations and substance abuse and addictions.

"O God, by whom we are redeemed and receive adoption, look graciously upon your beloved sons and daughters, that those who believe in Christ may receive true freedom and an everlasting inheritance.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
(Collect, Monday 23rd Week in Ordinary Time).

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Ask, Seek, Knock and Receive. The Church trusts the Promise of Jesus.

“And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."  (Luke 11: 9).

The Gospel this Thursday, October 11 contains the most important and beautiful promise of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The Church believes absolutely in the Promise of Ask, Seek, Knock and Receive. How do I know?  Because in the prayers of the Church in Sacred Liturgy, you see the Church constantly reminding Jesus of this promise.  Do not hesitate in imitating the Church in your own prayers.

"For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.  What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish?  Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg?" (Luke 11: 10-12).

Abba Father is a most loving Father.  How can He give us something that will hurt us when He invites us to pray with expectant faith?

"If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the holy Spirit to those who ask him?”  "Luke 11: 13).

We are distracted by many things, our moods change quickly. Last but not the least, we are profoundly selfish.  But because God has planted into our being parental instinct, we know how to give good gifts to our children. 

Ask the Father of mercy and God of all consolation the best of all gifts: the Holy Spirit!  He will give you instantly. This is the experience in all Christian traditions.  Catholics, Protestants, Evangelicals have all experienced the Holy Spirit and His love and power.  The Holy Spirit is the Abundant life promised by Jesus in John 10: 10.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Your Kingdom come.

“When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test.”
(Luke 11: 2 - 4).

Our Gospel today is the Lucan version of the Lord's Prayer.  Let us reflect on the petition:
"Your Kingdom come." (Luke 11: 2).

We noted that Jesus has a magnificent obsession for the Kingdom.  He used the term more than any other in the Gospel.  After the Resurrection, it appeared that He spoke of nothing else but the Kingdom.

"Until the day he was taken up, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen.  He presented himself alive to them by many proofs after he had suffered, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God." (Acts 1: 2 - 3).

What is the Kingdom?
The Kingdom is the reign of the King [God] in the hearts and minds of men and women in the world.  The seed of the Kingdom is the Church.

"Jesus and the presence of the kingdom in this world are secretly at the heart of the parables. One must enter the kingdom, that is, become a disciple of Christ, in order to "know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven". For those who stay "outside", everything remains enigmatic," teaches the Church (CCC 546).

People who are searching for shortcut to the fulfilled life, the abundant life, Jesus gives this formula:
"Make your top priority God’s kingdom and his way of life, and all these things will be given to you as well."
(Matthew 6: 33 NTE).

Monday, October 08, 2018

How did the Church become so distracted?

“Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” (Luke 10: 40).

Is Martha the symbol of a Church distracted by many things? The compromising Church? Too busy to sit still and listen?

"She [Martha] had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak."  (Luke 10: 39).

How did the Church today got to be burdened by many distractions?  The Church that works and not prays is a weak Church.

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”  (Luke 10: 41 - 42).

I know a couple that spent countless hours running between food banks and homeless shelters but too busy to pray.  They were praised by the priest at a Sunday Mass for their exemplary conduct. A few months later, they were burned out and stopped coming to Church.  Prayer is a vital necessity.

Anxious and distracted Church reminds us of the Parable of the Sower:  "The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit."  (Matthew 13: 22).

Mary has intuited the Sacrament of the Present Moment.  The Power of the Now!

The Church teaches:
"Prayer is a battle. Against whom? Against ourselves and against the wiles of the tempter who does all he can to turn man away from prayer, away from union with God."  (CCC 2725).

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Where is your steadfastness and loyalty?

"I am amazed that you are so quickly forsaking the one who called you by the grace of Christ for a different gospel, not that there is another.  (Galatians 1: 6)

The reflections today is from the first Reading on Monday, 27th Week of Ordinary Time.  The Scripture is full of succulent meat.  If your ministry is in the field of evangelization/catechesis, you would certainly have experienced Paul's frustration in Galatians 1: 6.  You stamp your feet on the ground and ask:  Where has loyalty gone?

The answer is plain.  You work hard during the day and sow good seeds.  At midnight, the enemy sneaks in and sows weed.
"But there are some who are disturbing you and wish to pervert the gospel of Christ." (Galatians 1: 7).

Salvation cost Jesus His life. Sometimes, you need to pull out the dagger for a hand to hand spiritual combat.  Paul never hesitates.  So does Peter, James and the other Apostles.
Perversion of the truth of Revelation is the worst possible crime.
"But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel other than the one that we preached to you, let that one be accursed! As we have said before, and now I say again, if anyone preaches to you a gospel other than the one that you received, let that one be accursed!"  (Galatians 1: 8 - 9).

Why do people compromise or soften the truth of the Gospel? To make quick and easy converts?  They never last. Don't curry favors.  If you are real, they will treat you like they treated Jesus.

"Am I now currying favor with human beings or God? Or am I seeking to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ."  (Galatians 1: 10).

If necessary, be prepared to give proof of your authenticity.
"Now I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel preached by me is not of human origin.  For I did not receive it from a human being, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ."  (Galatians 1: 11- 12).

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Can a man put asunder what God has joined together?

“Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?” (Mark 10: 2).

This is the big question in the Gospel of the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time.   Jesus responds:
"But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.  For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother [and be joined to his wife],  and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh."  (Mark 10: 6 - 8).

And then Jesus adds:
"Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”  (Mark 10: 9).

Marriage and Holy Orders are two Sacraments of Service in the Church.
Through these Sacraments, married people, bishops, priests and deacons take a solemn vow to build up the Church.  Both institutions are in dire crisis today.  Listening to the loud accusations of some people about the clerical sex crisis, one could ask the question:  What is the state of marriage in our society today? Less than 40% of married couples who have been married for 35 years or more are still married to the same person.  This is no excuse for the clerical sex abuse (less than 2% of all priests are accused).  What is going on?

"The Lord God said: It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suited to him."  (Genesis 2: 18).

Lord grant us holy marriages and holy homes.

Friday, October 05, 2018

Great reason for rejoicing.

"Do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”  (Luke 10: 20).

The 72 disciples of Jesus on their return from their missionary journey were full of joy because they cast out demons in the name of Jesus.  Jesus tells them that there is a greater joy waiting for them.  Their "names are written in heaven.”  (Luke 10: 20).  Your name too is written in heaven and this is a matter for great joy.  The Christian has the Holy Spirit, who is the source of joy.  Jesus Himself rejoiced constantly in the Holy Spirit.
"At that very moment he [Jesus] rejoiced in the holy Spirit."  (Luke 10: 21).

At the time of Job [Book of Job], people rejoiced in their material possessions.
"Thus the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his earlier ones. For he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she-assess. And he had seven sons and three daughters."  (Job 42: 12 - 13).

Revelation was progressive.  Jesus was not yet born to reveal the Holy Spirit, the Blessed Trinity and Heaven.
Now we know the source of true and everlasting peace and joy.

"Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom."  (Cf Matthew 11: 25).

To get hold of this peace and joy, we need the awesome Holy Spirit:
"Teach me wisdom and knowledge, for in your commands I trust."   (Psalm 119: 66).

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you."  (Matthew 7: 7 NLT).

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Whoever listens My anointed one listens to Me.

"Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”  (Luke 10: 16).

There seems to be a crisis of authority everywhere today? When you refuse to listen to your Bishop, do you ever imagine that you you are refusing to listen to Jesus Himself?

One of the Signs of the Times is the almost universal challenge to authority.  Especially in the Church.  Why is it that people who dare not challenge the authority of the physician, judge, teacher or law enforcement official, will not hesitate to challenge their pastors?  Is this one of the Signs of the Times?  This is what Paul wrote to Timothy in the first century AD:

"For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers."  (2 Timothy 4: 3).

We should all be grateful for authority in the Church because authority protects the Church from false teachings and heresies as Peter writes below.

"There will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction" (2 Pet. 2:1).

"I tell you, on the day of judgment people will render an account for every careless word they speak." (Matthew 12: 36).

Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the First Friday of October.

October 5, 2018 - First Friday in October.

The 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus:  Jesus promised 12 special favors to all those who will honor His Sacred Heart especially on the First Friday of every month.  In the 10th month of the year 2018, we look at Promise #10.

#10.  "I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts."

Do not think: "I am not excited by this promise.  I am not a priest."  Error! We are all baptized and by virtue of this Baptism are priests, princes and prophets. Of course, Jesus Christ chose a tiny percentage of men and configured them to be ministerial priests to celebrate the Sacraments.  The first mission of the Church is evangelization.  You see where the 10th Promise is relevant for you?  Moreover, the first 3 Spiritual Works of Mercy instruct us:
#1. Instruct the ignorant.
#2. Counsel the doubtful.
#3. Admonish sinners.

Jesus promises to give you power to touch the most hardened of these.  They could be family. They could be friends or neighbors.  Will you refuse such a gift?

Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus this Friday by attending Holy Mass.

For the 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, click the link below:

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

The Feast of St Francis of Assisi.

"Behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way."  (Luke 10: 3 - 4).

Today is the feast of St Francis of Assisi (1181 - 1226), the founder of the Franciscans.
"Francis, the man of God, left his home behind,
abandoned his inheritance and became poor and penniless,
but the Lord raised him up." (Entrance Antiphon on the Memorial of St Francis of Assisi).

What comes to your mind when you hear of St Francis of Assisi?  Many people would think of a man of peace. "Lord, make me an instrument of peace..." Others will think of radical evangelical poverty... "The little poor man of Assisi." Both are salient attributes in the profile of this exceptionally gifted holy man. I want to mention too Francis' deep love of creation and care of the earth.  Most people that are aware of the impending disaster from Global Warming will know Francis of Assisi and his contribution to this topical debate.

As gifted as Francis is, the Church recognizes in the Liturgy celebrating his life today that his gifts, talents, conformity to Jesus in poverty and humility all came from God.  All saints are saints because they are open to receive God's gifts.

You too can be a saint. You too can be an instrument of Peace. You too can be committed to preserving the beauty and goodness of the environment for future generations and an apostle of Climate Change.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."  (Matthew 5: 3).

"We thank you for the beauty of creation: may the work of man not disfigure it, but enhance it to your greater glory."  Amen.

I will follow you when I am ready.

“I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.”  (Luke 9: 61).

I will follow You Jesus but...
What is your "But"?  For the young man above, it is family. People have held back their commitment with excuses like:
I will follow you but let me complete my education or my home...
I will follow you but I want to get married first...

Do you know that Jesus knows exactly what you need and when we need it?
Jesus seems to say that the invitation cannot wait.  When the call "Follow me" comes, leave everything and follow Him. Jesus knows when you are ready enough for His purpose.  Go.  Forward Ever, Backward Never.  “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”  (Luke 9: 62).

The Kingdom of God and establishing Jesus' manner of righteousness is the top priority for Jesus throughout His public ministry.  Should it be less for us?

"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides."  (Matthew 6: 33).

Do not be afraid. No one can outdo Jesus in generosity.  He was faithful to His first disciples. He is faithful today. He will always be faithful.
"Remember your word to your servant by which you give me hope.  This is my comfort in affliction, your promise that gives me life."  (Psalm 119: 49 - 50).  That promise never fails!

Monday, October 01, 2018

The Friend always at your side.

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father." (Matthew 18: 10).

With these words, our Lord  confirms the existence of the Guardian Angels (GA). The Guardian Angels are part of the rich heritage of our faith tradition.  There are some Christian ecclesial communities who believe that angels and saints are distraction from the purity of their faith.  Only Jesus!

The Church believes and teaches that God in His unfathomable providence gives us holy Angels to guard and protect us.  How fortunate has been my destiny to have learned about the Guardian Angels from my early years and to have bonded with my GA throughout my life.  I invoke him in the morning when and at night when I am ready to go to bed.

Today is the feast of the Guardian Angels .

"Angels of the Lord, bless the Lord, praise and exalt him above all for ever."  (Cf Daniel 3: 58).

One of the great things the Guardian Angels do for you and for me apart from protection is intercession.  They intercede for us continually before the Throne of Mercy.  We owe a great debt of gratitude to our GA for this ministry.

"Bless the Lord, all you his hosts, his ministers who carry out his will."  (Psalm 103: 21).

King David who is always exuberant sings:
"I thank you, Lord, with all my heart; in the presence of the angels to you I sing."  (Psalm 138: 1).

Honor your Guardian Angel today and every day.

Feast of St Therese, the Little Flower.

"An argument arose among the disciples about which of them was the greatest.  Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child and placed it by his side  and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me."  (Luke 9: 46 - 48).

October 1st is the feast of St Therese of Lisieux, also called St Therese of the Child Jesus. She is indeed the little child of Jesus. She entered Carmel at the age of 15 and died at the age of 24.  Although she had no formal academic degrees, Therese is one of the 35 Doctors of the Church. How and why? The Lord Jesus taught Therese Himself, tested her by rigorous examinations and at the end conferred the Doctorate on her.  Who dare question the authority of Jesus?

"The Lord led her and taught her, and kept her as the apple of his eye. Like an eagle spreading its wings he took her up and bore her on his shoulders. The Lord alone was her guide."  (Cf Deuteronomy 32: 10 - 12).

In the Liturgy celebrating her life today, the Church proclaims with astonishment the wonders that God wrought in the Little Flower. (Cf Offertory Prayer).

"Thus says the Lord:
Unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven."  (Matthew 18: 3).

Saturday, September 29, 2018

The word of God is the blessed assurance of God.

"Never forget your promises to me your servant, for they are my only hope. They give me strength in all my troubles; how they refresh and revive me!"  (Psalm 119: 49 - 50 TLB).

The Communion Antiphon in this Sunday's Sacred Liturgy is from Psalm 119: 49 - 50.  The whole of this extra long Psalm celebrates God's Law.  What is God's Law?  Synonyms for God's Law are: decrees, statutes, commands, commandments, promises. I like particularly "promises" as equivalent for God's Law.  Below are synonyms for Promise:

"assurance, pledge, vow,
 guarantee, oath, bond, undertaking, agreement, commitment,
contract, covenant"

From Psalm 19, the Responsorial Psalm for today, we get a beautiful testimony of the word of God:
"The law of the Lord is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The decree of the Lord is trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart.
The command of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eye."  (Psalm 19: 8 - 9).

Although we have not always been faithful to our covenant with God, He is always full of mercy anytime we come back and say: "Abba Father, I am sorry."

"O God, who manifest your almighty power above all by pardoning and showing mercy, bestow, we pray, your grace abundantly upon us
and make those hastening to attain your promises heirs to the treasures of heaven.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever."  (Collect: 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time).

Friday, September 28, 2018

I will worship You O Lord in the presence of the angels.

“Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”  (John 1: 51).

The Church celebrates today the feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.
The angels are messengers of God perpetually in His presence ministering to Him.
"Bless the Lord, all you his angels, mighty in power,
fulfilling his word and heeding his voice." (Cf Ps 103: 20).

There is ample testimony in Sacred Scripture of the role of angels in salvation history. The most famous, the one most Christians are familiar with is the Annunciation of the Archangel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin Mary:  "In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary." (Luke 1: 26 - 27).

What do angels do?  They are continually in the presence of God worshipping Him.  The Church militant joins the Choirs of Angels in her Sacred Liturgy on earth in this joyful and glorious task. The Liturgy is where Heaven touches the earth.

When did the cult of the angels begin?  The existence, character and mission of angels is solidly attested by the witness of Divine Scriptures.  We can say that the cult of the angels made a smooth transition from the Old Testament to the Church Age.

"I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with all my heart, for you have heard the words of my mouth; in the presence of the angels I will sing your praise; I will worship at your holy temple and give thanks to your name."  (Psalm 138: 1 - 2)

Thursday, September 27, 2018

There is an appointed time for everything.

"There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens."
(Ecclesiastes 3: 1).

Time in the Scriptures is either Chronos, calendar time or Kairos, time of grace, that is time set by the Providence of God for His breakthrough or intervention in human events. Below are a few of such times:

“Write the vision
And make it plain on tablets,
That he may run who reads it.
For the vision is yet for an appointed time."  (Habakkuk 2: 2 - 3).

2. "Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth? are not his days also like the days of an hireling?" (Job 7: 1).

3.  "Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared."  (Matthew 2: 7).

4.  "Therefore Jesus told them, "My time is not yet here; for you any time will do." (John 7: 6).

5.  "Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near."  (Revelation 1: 3).

Time and Season are God’s Appointment.
"God has made everything appropriate to its time." 
(Ecclesiastes 3: 11).

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

All things are vanity.

"Who, then, is this I hear such things about?”  (Luke 9: 9).

This is the troubled conscience of King Herod who beheaded John the Baptist on the altar of lust. It is remarkable that Herod appeared well informed about the activities of Jesus.

Why do so many today appear apathetic about Jesus and His mission?  Many on the streets appear weary and lost.  They  almost scream for Redemption.  How do we reach them with the light of the Redeemer?

Herod kept trying to see Jesus. (Luke 9: 9). Why do so many appear to ignore Jesus?

Jesus has an answer for the likes of Herod.  “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."  (John 14: 6).

The Teacher has a word of wisdom for these sheep without shepherd:
"Vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!"  (Ecclesiastes 1: 2).

St Paul cried out when his life was dominated by this type of futile behavior:
"Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?"  (Romans 7: 24).

Vanity of vanities!  All things are vanity!
"The world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world."  (1 John 2: 16).

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Every word of God is tested.

"Every word of God is tested;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him."  Proverbs 30: 5).

How much do you trust the word of God?  A little or a lot? That Bible somewhere in your home may be like acres of diamond in your backyard.

"Two things I ask of you, deny them not to me before I die:
Put falsehood and lying far from me, give me neither poverty nor riches; provide me only with the food I need;
Lest, being full, I deny you,
saying, “Who is the LORD?”
Or, being in want, I steal, and profane the name of my God."  (Proverbs 30: 7 - 9).

I have been poor. I have been rich and I have been poor again.  Two things I have learned:
#1.  God knows exactly what we need and when we need it.
#2.  God Never Fails!

Today I trust the Lord to provide what I need.

Every promise of God is tested. God is a shield to those who trust Him and take refuge in Him.  (Proverbs 30: 5).

"Your word, O Lord, is a lamp for my feet.
Remove from me the way of falsehood, and favor me with your law.

"The law of your mouth is to me more precious than thousands of gold and silver pieces."

Your word, O LORD, endures forever; it is firm as the heavens." (Psalm 119: 29, 72, 82).

Monday, September 24, 2018

Mary My Mom hears the word of God and keeps it.

“Your mother and your brothers are standing outside and they wish to see you.”  Jesus said to them in reply, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.”  (Luke 8: 20 - 21).

Did Mary and the brethren of Jesus make a mistake in visiting Jesus at work? Be that as it may, Jesus seizes the opportunity to point to His mother Mary as a model of a servant of God who hears the word of God and observes it. (Cf Luke 11: 28).

Mary heard the proposal to become the mother of the Redeemer and replied at once:
"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May your word to me be fulfilled." (Luke 1: 38).

The word of God says: 
"Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37: 4).
Mary replies:  "How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior." 
(Luke 1: 47).  Jesus made Mary Mother, Teacher and Queen.

Simeon the old Prophet says to Mary:  "A sword will pierce your very soul." (Luke 2: 35).  Mary bowed her head in acceptance and complete surrender to the will of God.
At the foot of the Cross where Mary stood still like a statue, she heard Jesus moan:  "Where is my mother?"  Mary groaned in silence accepting the immolation of her Son and offering Him to the Eternal Father.

At every moment of Mary's life, we see a woman who lives by this word of God:
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence do not rely; In all your ways be mindful of God, and he will make straight your paths." 
(Proverbs 3: 5).

No wonder all generations continue to call Mary blessed. (Luke 1: 48).
The promise of Jesus is still true for you and for me:
“My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.”
(Luke 8: 21).

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Use your light or it will be taken away.

 “No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light."  (Luke 8: 16).

Baptism places the light of Christ in us.  Like one lighted candle, this light becomes many lighted candles in us as we grow in our Christian life through prayer, word of God, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Examination of Conscience, Spiritual Reading and Ministry.

Do you conceal your light or do you share it through how you talk and act?  How we talk and act is a witness to who we are. Jesus has given us His light for a purpose.

We also are called to witness through special gifts.
"He gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers,  to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ."  (Ephesians 4: 11 - 12).

Jesus concludes today's teaching with a warning:
"To anyone who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he seems to have will be taken away.”

Use it or lose it.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

The Son of Man is delivered to you in the Eucharist.

“The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death he will rise.”  (Mark 9: 31).

"handed over" means:

"delivered into the hands of men." 
You know how UPS delivers a parcel to you.
"is to be betrayed into human hands."
"will be given to men"

It is sad to see that Jesus Christ is still being handed over, betrayed and delivered to us today?

The Son of Man is still being delivered to us every day in the Eucharist and in the Tabernacle of the Blessed Sacrament. Instead of adoration and worship, He is neglected and sometimes despised.

"I was lonely and waiting for you in the Blessed Sacrament. You never visited Me." What will be your defense?  "Lord if I knew you were truly there, I would visit you every day."
"Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them."
(John 13:17)

"God has called us through the Gospel to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."
(Cf 2 Thessalonians 2: 14).

Friday, September 21, 2018

You can deal with anxiety.

"The seed is the word of God."  (Luke 8: 11).

We are the soil.

The Parable of the Sower is one of the best known of Jesus' parables and can be considered the most consequential.  Each person can easily recognize himself as a type of soil. "The seed that fell among thorns" gives us a template of which novels and movies are made.  From rags to riches and riches to rags.
The world is full of anxiety, fear and doubt.  Jesus says that these emotions are lethal for the implanted life of God in the soul.

"As for the seed that fell among thorns, they are the ones who have heard, but as they go along, they are choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life, and they fail to produce mature fruit."  (Luke 8: 14).

How do we deal with anxiety? Two simple tools of Jesus:
#1 Prayer.
#2  Word of God.

Simple prayer of petition is always powerful. Example:  Lord help me overcome my anxiety. "Lord I am going to see the doctor, I am anxious. Please help me.  I am usually anxious at the end of the month because of the bills, help me Lord."  Make this simple prayer of petition habitual and you will be surprised to find how your stubborn anxieties are under control or completely eliminated.

The word of God is the promise of God.  God gives us these promises to help us live well.   I use the promises below frequently:

"Do not fear: I am with you; do not be anxious: I am your God.
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my victorious right hand."  (Isaiah 41: 10)

I count seven promises in the above Scripture verse. I claim them every morning.

"This I know: God is on my side!
I praise God for what he has promised; yes, I praise the Lord for what he has promised.  I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?"  (Psalm 56: 9 - 11 NLT).

It is powerful to remind God that you are asking for what He has promised. It gives you confidence.

The goal of the Christian life is to progressively make your soul a rich soil for the word of God.
"But as for the seed that fell on rich soil, they are the ones who, when they have heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance." (Luke 8: 15).

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Matthew follow me.

"As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him."  (Matthew 9: 9).

Today is the Feast of St Matthew the Evangelist.

"Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them
and teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you,
says the Lord."  (Cf Matthew 28: 19 - 20).
Matthew recorded and carried out the above mission.  God chose Matthew into the intimate circle of Jesus with untold mercy.

Matthew accepted the call with generosity and then lived in a manner worthy of the call he received.  He used his old skill as a tax recorder to pen the Gospel that bears his name.

The call of Matthew is a story of mercy. The unfathomable mercy of God.  “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
(Matthew 9: 12 - 13).

Like Matthew, let us be ready at all times to be surprised by Mercy.  The Good News is the orchestration of Mercy. Be a part of that global orchestra.
Ask for Mercy.
Be Merciful.
Completely trust Jesus for Mercy.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Your sins are forgiven. Go in peace.

“Your sins are forgiven.....Go in peace.”  (Luke 7: 48, 50).

These are wonderful words of mercy to the sinful woman who bathed the feet of Jesus with her tears and wiped them with her hair. After kissing the feet, she anointed them with an expensive ointment.

What value do you place on sins?  Would you prefer to win a large lottery than to hear the words:
“Your sins are forgiven."  (Luke 7: 48).  St Paul gave this point blank message to the Corinthians: "Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures." (1 Corinthians 15: 3). If Christ died for our sins, then sin must be a pretty serious issue. Nobody dies for the outcome of a football game.

When you hear of Debt in Scriptures, you can safely substitute the word Sin.  A big Debt means a big Sin.  If a huge debt is wiped out, it means all sins, crimes, felonies have been forgiven in one merciful act of God.  How did the sinful woman able to figure out what Christ did for her?  The peace, joy and well-being she felt.

"How can I repay the Lord for all the great good done for me?"  (Psalm 116: 12).

Have you ever experienced the pure joy of reconciliation? How do you express your gratitude?

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his mercy endures forever.
Let Israel say: his mercy endures forever.
Let the house of Aaron say,
his mercy endures forever.
Let those who fear the Lord say,
his mercy endures forever."  (Psalm 118: 1 - 4).

The woman in this narrative could have answered her critics with these words:
"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective."  (1 Corinthians 15: 10).

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Love bears all things.

"Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."  (1 Corinthians 13: 7).

If a newly married couple asks you for an advice on how to make a success of their marriage, what would you say to them?

Consider the truth and the power of this word of God:

"Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated,  it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,  it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."  (1 Corinthians 13: 4 - 7).

You might also consider putting this advice on a beautiful frame.  Make three copies: one for the bedroom, one for the living room and one for the dining room.  This is also good for examination of conscience before Reconciliation.  Your spiritual work of Mercy may be the best wedding gift anyone can receive.

"Love never fails."  (1 Corinthians 13: 8).  Of course!  Because God is love and God Never Fails!

Monday, September 17, 2018

Jesus says to the widow: Do not weep.

“Young man, I tell you, arise!” (Luke 7: 14).

At this command of Jesus, the dead man, the son of the widow of Nain sat up. Jesus was moved to pity for her sorrowful and weeping mother and said to her:  "Do not weep."  (Luke 7: 13).

We rarely hear mention of widows in our modern society.  What happened to the widows?  Widows are permanent landmarks of the Bible: Old and New Testament.  Along with orphans and strangers, they form the trio that enjoy God's preferential privileges.  A few verses on the testimony of the Scriptures:

1.  "You shall not oppress or afflict a resident alien, for you were once aliens residing in the land of Egypt.  You shall not wrong any widow or orphan.  If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me, I will surely listen to their cry."  (Exodus 22: 20 - 22).

2. "For the Lord, your God, is the God of gods, the Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who has no favorites, accepts no bribes,  who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and loves the resident alien, giving them food and clothing."  (Deuteronomy 10: 17 - 18).

3. "He [Elijah] called out to the Lord: “Lord, my God, will you afflict even the widow with whom I am staying by killing her son?”  (1 Kings 17: 20).

4. "The Lord protects the resident alien, comes to the aid of the orphan and the widow, but thwarts the way of the wicked."  (Psalm 146: 9).

5.  "A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents."  (Mark 12: 42).

We can now see what informed Jesus' heart for the widow and the marginalized of society: the word of God.

"How precious is your mercy, O God!  The children of Adam take refuge in the shadow of your wings."  (Psalm 36: 8).

Sunday, September 16, 2018

How do you use the power of the word?

"Say the word and let my servant be healed."  (Luke 7: 7).

The encounter of Jesus with the Roman Centurion teaches us two lessons:
#1. The power of the the word.
#2.  The power of faith.

Do you appreciate the power of the word?   How do you react when a police officer barks "STOP!"  You freeze at the location.  The authority of the army officer like the Centurion lies only in the power of his word.  Listen to the Centurion describes how it works:

"For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”  (Luke 7: 8).

How about power of the word of Jesus.   It will be like comparing a 0.45 caliber pistol to an atomic blast.  God's power is in His word.  He created the world through His word.  "Let there be light."  Wow!  There was light! 

How was the Centurion able to figure out the power of Jesus?  Theologians teach that "grace builds on nature."   God gave the Centurion the natural grace of being a commanding officer.  When he heard of Jesus and His miracles, he understood what was going on. He believed! Jesus was impressed and answered his prayer.

“I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.”  (Luke 7: 9).

We too have the power of the word. The word of God is the promise of God. The word of God is His decree or law.  God wants us to use His words in prayer with expectant faith.  "You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it."  (John 14: 14).  Ask!

Saturday, September 15, 2018

But you, who do you say that I am.

"And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said to him in reply, “You are the Messiah.”  (Mark 8: 29).

Caesarea Philippi marks a watershed in the Gospel narrative.  What happens at Caesarea Philippi and why does it matter?  First, the Father reveals the identity of Jesus as the Son of God and the expected Messiah.  Secondly Jesus looks you in the eyes and asks you:  “But who do you say that I am?”
The answer you give to this test determines your life here and now and your eternal destiny.

St Jerome, Church Father and Doctor of the Church says:  "Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ."   Jesus made so many promises during His public ministry.  Each of His promise shows us who He is.  Which of these promises do you appropriate that helps you to answer the question: Who is Jesus?

1.  "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends."  (John 15: 13).
2.  "For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him."  (2 Corinthians 5: 21).
3.  "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides."  (Matthew 6: 33).
4.   "Whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son."  (John 14: 13).

You can know who Jesus is through His words. He is the word of God and He is in His word.

From the Gospel, I know that Jesus is my Lord and my God, my Savior and my Redeemer. He is my Good Shepherd. Jesus is the Promise Maker and the Promise Keeper.

"Jesus asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said to him in reply, “You are the Messiah.”  (Mark 8: 29).

Friday, September 14, 2018

The Heart that is pierced with a sword.

"When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home."  (John 19:  26 - 27).

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.  Coming right after the feast of the Triumph of the Cross. The Church remembers the Heart of Mary  "pierced with a sword."

"Simeon said to Mary: Behold, this child is destined for the ruin and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign of contradiction; and your own soul a sword will pierce."  (Cf Luke 2: 34 - 35).

On the Cross, Jesus gave us His mother as our mother. (John 19:  26 - 27).  A precious, priceless Gift.

"How shall I make a return to the LORD for all the good he has done for me through His Blessed Mother? The cup of salvation I will take up, and I will call upon the name of the LORD.

"To You Jesus will I offer sacrifice of Thanksgiving, and I will call upon the name of the Lord. My vows to the LORD I will pay in the presence of all his people." 
(Cf Psalm 116:12-13, 17-18).

"O God, who willed that, when your Son was lifted high on the Cross, his Mother should stand close by and share his suffering, grant that your Church, participating with the Virgin Mary in the Passion of Christ, may merit a share in his Resurrection.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever."
(Collect, Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows).

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Lift high the triumphant Cross!

"Make a seraph and mount it on a pole, and everyone who has been bitten will look at it and recover." (Numbers 21: 8).

Friday, September 14th is the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.  Today, the universal Church lifts high the triumphant Cross from which came the salvation of the world.  What happened in the Desert in Numbers 21 prefigures the real and gruesome sacrifice of Jesus on the altar of the Cross.  Here Jesus is the Victim, the Priest and the Altar of Sacrifice!

"When I am lifted up from the earth,
I will draw everyone to myself, says the Lord."  (John 12: 32).

Thank You Jesus!

Brothers and sisters:  "We should glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ in whom is our salvation, life and resurrection, through whom we are saved and delivered."
(Galatians 6: 14).

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Mercy droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven...

"Be merciful, just as [also] your Father is merciful."  (Luke 6:  36).

Mercy is the preeminent attribute of God.  In the Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare shows that mercy can also be a human attribute:

"The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes. 'Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes the thronèd monarch better than his crown."

Like the Unforgiving Servant, Shylock in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice ignored the plea for mercy.
Jesus urges us to be merciful as our Heavenly Father is always merciful.  But Abba Father's mercy comes with a condition: "Forgive and you will be forgiven."  (Luke 6: 37).  And again: "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."  (Matthew 6: 12).  We see that it is Father's intention to make mercy a human policy.

"Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love; in your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions.
Thoroughly wash away my guilt; and from my sin cleanse me. For I know my transgressions; my sin is always before me.
Against you, you alone have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your eyes.....

I will teach the wicked your ways,
that sinners may return to you."
(Psalm 51: 3 - 6, 15).
The reformed sinner has not only become merciful but is now an evangelist of Mercy.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Congratulations to you who are poor.

“Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours."  (Luke 6: 20).

St Luke gives his version of the Beatitudes in Luke 6: 20 - 26).
The Beatitude is a faithful portrait of the character of Jesus the Messiah, the Faithful Servant. It begins with a key attribute: material poverty.  Jesus was born of poor parents in a manger. He lived in a poor neighborhood of Nazareth. After he attained the age of puberty, He became an apprentice carpenter in His father's workshop.

When Jesus began His teaching with "Congratulations to you who are materially poor..." His audience would have been delighted. Let us head to the Catechism to see what the Church teaches us on the Beatitudes.

"The Beatitudes reveal the goal of human existence, the ultimate end of human acts: God calls us to his own beatitude. This vocation is addressed to each individual personally, but also to the Church as a whole, the new people made up of those who have accepted the promise and live from it in faith." (CCC 1719).

Man does not live on bread alone. Man does not live on money alone. There is life for man in every word that comes from the mouth of God. (Cf Matthew 4: 4).

"God put us in the world to know, to love, and to serve him, and so to come to paradise. Beatitude makes us "partakers of the divine nature" and of eternal life. With beatitude, man enters into the glory of Christ and into the joy of the Trinitarian life." (CCC 1721)

The Beatitude is the blueprint of our Journey of Faith.  Follow it as faithfully as you follow the GPS and it will lead you to our true Homeland.

Monday, September 10, 2018

I will see you in court.

"How can any one of you with a case against another dare to bring it to the unjust for judgment instead of to the holy ones?"  (1 Corinthians 6: 1).

St Paul upbraided the Corinthian Christians who were new and baby Christians for behaving in a manner completely outside "our manner of doing things."  Every family, every household has its "manner of doing things."  With time, your family manner of doing things become the tradition of your family.  The Christian Church is the Household of God. She too has its manner of acting and doing things.

"If, therefore, you have courts for everyday matters, do you seat as judges people of no standing in the church?"  (1 Corinthians 6: 4).
No! No! No!

"Can it be that there is not one among you wise enough to be able to settle a case between brothers?  But rather brother goes to court against brother, and that before unbelievers?"  (1 Corinthians 6: 5 - 6).
Yes there are many among us who can settle our grievances against one another. O Holy Spirit help us!

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."  (Romans 12: 2).
Got it! When we conform to the "manner of doing things" of the world, we sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.

"I chose you from the world,
that you may go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord." (John 15: 16).
It is our vocation and mission to make the world conform to our manner of doing things not the other way around.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Jesus is still speaking through the Scriptures and Magisterium.

"Jesus knew what they were thinking." (Luke 6: 8).

Jesus knew what the Pharisees were thinking in their hearts.  They condemned Him for healing a man with a withered hand on a Sabbath. (Luke 6: 6 - 11).
Will it scare you to know that Jesus knows what you are thinking about everything?

One of the attributes of God that delights my heart is His omniscience.  God knows everything before it happens.
Jesus knew Judas' treason before it happened. He knew Peter's betrayal before it occurred.  After the Resurrection, Jesus is more willing to forgive Peter than for Peter to accept the clemency and forgive himself.

What do you think is the purpose of the Genealogy of Jesus Christ, Son of David and Son of Abraham?  (Matthew 1: 1 - 16)  To confound the likes of Pharisees who know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? (Matthew 22: 29).

"My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me." (John 10: 27).

Jesus is still speaking through the Sacred Scriptures and Sacred Magisterium.

"One day the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?"
(Acts 19: 15).

Saturday, September 08, 2018

The Lord sustains the fatherless and the widow.

"My brothers, show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ."
(James 2: 1).

Many RCIA Teams all over the world will be drawing from today's Scriptures to address the topic of Social Justice in their catechetical work.  This is the Scripture the Holy Spirit gives the Church for the 23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time.  The Holy Spirit is not liberal or conservative.  He is simply the Holy Spirit, Lord and Giver of life, the Author of the Sacred Scriptures, the Sanctifier.  The Church is not progressive or traditional. The Church is one, holy, catholic and apostolic.  Where the Spirit leads, the Church follows. With this in mind, let us listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying to the churches this Sunday.

"The God of Jacob keeps faith forever, secures justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets captives free.

"The LORD gives sight to the blind;
the LORD raises up those who were bowed down. The LORD loves the just; the LORD protects strangers.

"The fatherless and the widow the LORD sustains, but the way of the wicked he thwarts. The LORD shall reign forever; your God, O Zion, through all generations.
(Psalm 146: 7, 8 - 9, 9 10).

Psalm 146, the Responsorial Psalm highlights the themes of the mission of the Messiah.  They are also the themes of the mission of the Church.

"Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God, he comes with vindication; With divine recompense he comes to save you."  (Isaiah 35: 4 - 1st Reading).

There are too many insecure and frightened people in the world today.  What can you do to calm their fears?

Friday, September 07, 2018

Happy Birthday Sweet Mother!

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.”  (Matthew 1: 23).

The Universal Church celebrates the Feast of the Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Mary was chosen, called, prepared and enabled to be the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Cf Romans 8: 30). Mary said Yes immediately to the Archangel Gabriel.  She did not say:  "Let me ask my husband about this.  I will also like to talk to my mother."  It was this openness to grace that made Mary:  "Blessed among women."  (Cf Luke 1: 45).  And every generation continues to call her blessed. (Luke 1: 48)

According to Matthew the Evangelist, Jesus Christ descended directly from Abraham:
"The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham became the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob........... (Matthew 1: 1 - 2).

After the birth of Jesus, the line of genealogy comes abruptly to an end.
"Eleazar became the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob,  Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Messiah."  (Matthew 1: 15 - 16).

A new genealogy begins from Jesus Son of God and Son of Mary. This genealogy includes you and me as royal sons and daughters.

"Let us celebrate with joy the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
for from her arose the sun of justice, Christ our God."  (Entrance Antiphon, Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary).

Thursday, September 06, 2018

How you delight in the LORD.

"Find your delight in the LORD who will give you your heart’s desire."  (Psalm 37: 4).

Our Bible verse for today is taken from the Responsorial Psalm from the Liturgy of Friday in the 22nd Week of Ordinary Time.

Before we tackle how we can find our delight in the Lord, we want to know what "delight" means. The dictionary defines "delight" by example thus:   "to make (someone) very happy : to give (someone) great pleasure or satisfaction."

We can find our delight in the Lord by being happy in the Lord. We can enjoy friendship with God.  Do you enjoy serving the Lord? I see here the idea of companionship.  Before the Fall, God and Adam enjoyed  walks together in Paradise.  Moses enjoyed friendship with God and talked with God as one friend to another.

Mary sings:  “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior."  (Luke 1: 46 - 47).

Do you enjoy praying, reading the Bible? These are key activities that cement friendship with God. Do you like hanging out in Churches?  The Sanctuary is a place where the presence of God is felt.

"Delight yourself in the Lord,
And He will give you the desires and petitions of your heart."  (Psalm 37: 4 AMP).
Remember: God knows exactly what you need and when you need it.

Constantly seek your happiness in the Lord, and the Lord promises to give you your heart's desire.

Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the First Friday of September.

September 7, 2018 - First Friday in September.

The 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus:  Jesus promised 12 special favors to all those who will honor His Sacred Heart especially on the First Friday of every month.  In the 9th month of the year 2018, we look at Promise #9.

#9.  "I will bless the homes in which the image of My Sacred Heart shall be exposed and honored."

Do you have an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in a prominent place in your home? Are you ashamed to displace it? Or do you consider it a childish devotion?
"Jesus replied, "Your mistake is that you don't know the Scriptures, and you don't know the power of God." (Matthew 22: 29).

Jesus Christ 100% God and 100 % Man is proud of His human heritage. He wants His brethren to be reminded of this.  So Jesus mandated His image to be rendered by an artist for the Sacred Heart and Divine Mercy devotions. The Church approved these devotions and images.

Patronize the ministry of the Catholic Bookstore by purchasing these images there.

Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus this Friday by attending Holy Mass.

For the 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, click the link below:

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

We worked hard but accomplished nothing.

“Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”  (Luke 5: 10).

Today's Gospel shows how Jesus called His first disciples.  There are plenty of lessons for everyone.

"After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” (Luke 5: 4).

Where you are and what you are doing now is no accident. You are where you are meant to be.  Jesus sees you.  He knows all about your successes and frustrations.

Jesus tested Simon, a seasoned fisherman to do something that professional fishermen would consider absurd.
"Simon said in reply, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.”  (Luke 5: 5 - 6).

Mary said to the servants at the first miracle at Cana: “Do whatever he tells you.”  (John 2: 5).  Would you do ridiculous things if Jesus asks you to?
Remembering Peter and the miraculous draught of fish and the servants at the Wedding at Cana would be a great inspiration at your moment of testing.  This sacred memory will be grace to anyone when such opportunity comes. It also helps greatly to know who Jesus is:
"The earth is the Lord’s and all it holds, the world and those who dwell in it."  (Psalm 24: 1).  Jesus is the Lord of the earth.

“Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”  (Luke 5:  8).  Most of us will react like Peter in the presence of manifest holiness and power.
Let not thoughts of your unworthiness discourage you.  Remember this:
"And those he predestined he also called; and those he called he also justified; and those he justified he also glorified."  (Romans 8: 30).

"Lord Jesus, You came to set the world on fire with the good news, Your Gospel. You prayed that its flames would race through our hearts. Send Your Holy Spirit upon us to give us the courage to spread the Good News of Your burning love for us.  May all our hearts be open to change as the light of Your love and message reaches every corner of Your holy Church. May it chase away the darkness of sin and lead even those most distanced from You back into Your loving arms.
We pray to You, Lord Jesus through Mary Your Mother whose plea You will never refuse.  Amen."
(Office of Evangelization. Archdiocese of NY).